Term Paper: Effects of Technology and Social Media on Turkish Youth Society

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¶ … Technology and Social Media on Turkish Youth

The media has become increasingly important to the youth culture around the world both in terms of bringing news of important events -- and the political issues and problems surrounding those events -- and carrying messages (including protests) by youth through social media to the greater community. In Turkey, as is true elsewhere in Middle Eastern countries, young people are very alert to the power of technology and the media, in particular social media, because they want change, and they demand that their voices be heard, even if they are doused with teargas, high pressure water cannons and pepper spray. Hence, the use of social media helps them share messages and organize actions through digital technologies (like Twitter) that are profoundly important as well as being instantaneous. This paper reviews the issues that stir the passions of youth in Turkey and the way in which technology and social media empower youth.

Background Picture of Youth, Protest and Technology

"Young people have used the new media to mobilize mass demonstrations, pitting their bodies against the police, army, and other repressive forces. But they have also used the Internet and various social networks such as Twitter and Facebook…signaling a generational crisis that is global in scope, young people have sent a message to the world that they refuse to live any longer under repressive political regimes sustained by a morally bankrupt neoliberal world…" (Giroux, 2011, 329).

Some of the tensions felt and expressed by Turkish youth relate to the crackdown on freedom and rights that was launched by the military coup in 1980. As background, the 1961 Constitution was "…the most liberal" in Turkey's history, expanding civil rights and liberties and encouraging "active citizenship" (Senay, 2008, 965). But the military coup took away those Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and sought to "empower" itself against its people by seeking "…to create a more passive and obedient population" (Senay, 965). Hence, young people in Turkey -- according to a series of 70 interviews Senay conducted with undergraduate students in Istanbul -- feel the need for "less state demands" and for a kind of citizenship where there is respect for "pluralism and diversity rather than cultural institutions" (Senay, 974).

New media -- and "social media" in particular -- is one of the drivers of the worldwide digital / technological revolution, but Shannon Arvizu writes in the peer-reviewed journal Media, Culture & Society that historically the print media was used "…as a vehicle for communicating alternative discourse" (Arvizu, 2009. 388). For groups then and now, whose goal is "…stimulating social, political or cultural change," there has always been a need to reach out through available means (Arvizu, 2009, 388). In today's Muslim society, "alternative media" is used in communication networks through "democratic media activism" as a way youth can promote "…democratic goals" (Arvizu, 388). These alternative media are now being embraced in Turkey as young people feel the need to form huge protests to rage against the repressive policies of the state.

Meanwhile, Kurds are a minority in Turkey and for Kurdish youth, life has not been easy or stagnant. Essayist Haydar Darici critiques the protests of Kurdish youth movements in Turkey by pointing out that first of all they have no say in government decisions affecting their lives and secondly, they have little privacy (Darici, 2011, 461). Moreover, they live and struggle in an environment where "…all public places are ethnically marked as Turkish" and hence they are made to feel "…like they are invading other people's privacy when they are in public" (Darici, 461). Making matters worse for Kurdish youth in Turkey, they are depicted (in the media and elsewhere) as "…purse-snatchers, glue-sniffers, handkerchief-sellers, sexual assaulters" and they are seen as "predisposed to violence" (Darici, 461).

Also, the government violence visited upon "marginalized groups" like Kurds means this culture "lives under siege" as homes are "…continuously under state surveillance" (Darici, 462). Given this situation in which Kurdish youth feel boxed in to cultural and social stereotypes that in many cases are painfully untrue, what is their recourse but to mobilize into radical, protest movements? And what is there for Turkish youth in general to do? For those who wish for more democratic policies from their government, should they sit and wait for change -- or to get organized (utilizing Tumblr and Twitter to spread the word) and go into the streets in massive numbers making demands for change? Clearly, Turkish youth have chosen the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Effects of Technology and Social Media on Turkish Youth Society.  (2013, June 1).  Retrieved May 21, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/effects-technology-social-media-turkish/4015201

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"Effects of Technology and Social Media on Turkish Youth Society."  Essaytown.com.  June 1, 2013.  Accessed May 21, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/effects-technology-social-media-turkish/4015201.